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jealous of British commerce penetrating a country which
it could only benefit, but the hereditary chief of the Kab
Arabs, whose influence was paramount from Mohamera
to Wais, a village above Ahwaz, was bitterly hostile, as
the opening of the river had been followed by the posting
of garrisons at Mohamera and Ahwaz and by the advent
of several Persian officials.
The crux of the Karun question is the natural barrage
at Ahwaz, which cannot be passed by steamers during
most of the year. Above it the distance to Shuster is eighty
miles by river and sixty miles by land. This insignificant
stretch of waterway was thought by the Shah to possess
vast potentialities, and was reserved for exploitation by
Persian subjects. In return for privileges they were
expected to pay large sums into the imperial privy purse.
Messrs. Lynch, whose knowledge of Persia was consider-
able, were able to surmount this thorny obstacle by
presenting a steamer to the Shafa^. which as the agents of
His Majesty they worked between Ahwaz and Shuster
at an annual loss.
Since I visited the Karun Valley eighteen years ago
much progress can be recorded. The working of the
important petroleum deposits at the foot of the Bakhtiari
ranges has brought considerable sums of money and a
progressive British community to the spot; the local
chiefs, too, have been given a pecuniary interest in
the company. Again, the opening up of the Ahwaz-
Isfahan road by the initiative of Messrs. Lynch has
created a large through traffic. Gradually jealousy has
been disarmed, as it has become evident that the district
has benefited enormously by the new order, and the recent
history of the Karun Valley adds yet another pacific
triumph to the long list already won by the officials and
merchants of Great Britain.
The Imperial Bank of Persia^ 1889.—Baron de Reuter
had hitherto received no compensation for the annul-
ment of his wide concession. Indeed, his caution-money,
amounting to ^40,000, was retained. In1889 the Shah, in
partial amends for this hard dealing, signed a concession in
his favour for the foundation of a bank, to be called the